From the first time I visited Paris just a few years ago, I knew it was going to be one of those destinations that I would return to at any given opportunity. One of those places that presented a homely feeling the minute I stepped out of the Gare Du Nord and get a glimpse of the classic light bricked architecture with naturally worn shutters and floor to ceiling windows.
The first time I explored Paris with my boyfriend, we ventured to the classic tourist spots. We climbed the Eiffel Tower, fastened a padlock to that famous bridge and posed with the The Louvre alongside other Brit abroad cliches. The second time we actively tried to ‘fit in’ with the Parisian crowd. We stayed away from tourist traps and Googled to our hearts content until we found a few more low-key spots in which to kick back with a glass of local wine, drink coffee and gorge on cheese. Once again, a blissful few days in the city, no question.
This time, however, we planned nothing prior to our trip. Instead, we set ourselves up in two hotels at differing ends of the city and let our eyes, ears and, most importantly, nose to naturally lead us though our city explorations. Without going full cheese on toast, we wanted the weekend to be about us and have the freedom to do whatever we fancied without needing to stick to an agenda or fill any sort of quota. Roughly translated as: we just wanted to sleep and eat loads without feeling like aimless sloths.
Being my birthday weekend, we sought to rest up in hotels which were luxurious, yet not too ‘shiny’. Essentially, we wanted to feel like we were immersed in Paris, but we wanted one hell of a spa too. Our first port of call was La Maison Favart. Nestled in the heart of the 2nd District of Paris and neighbouring Comic Opera, this hotel plonked us right in the centre of ‘real’ Paris. A 10/15 minute walk around our hotel presented us with endless restaurants and bars which, much to our delight, weren’t venues trying to be Parisian like you often find near the Notre Dame, but actual Parisian hotspots offering authentic food and ambiance.
The hotel itself was small (only 39 rooms) and dripping in 18th century glamour. Pink velvet curtains, purple decorated furniture and rich mahogany at every corner. A ‘petit’ spa awaited on the lower ground floor with pool, sauna and gym and our bedroom looked out onto the gold-lined Comic Opera House through windows that spanned floor to ceiling.
On our first morning in Paris and the morning of my birthday, the concierge delivered us breakfast in bed (with, I must add, the BEST hot chocolate I’ve ever consumed) and I was able to begin my 26th year dropping crumbs down my chest whilst eyeing a clear blue Parisian sky emerging. With little plans for the day, we filled our time with one trip to the spa, several trips to the complimentary ‘pie of the day’ and a few tense games of rummy in front of the open fire before dinner at Le Wagon Bleu; a restaurant set inside a 1920s carriage from the Orient Express (I bloody LOVE a gimmick venue and I’m not even sorry). We then ’accidentally’ fell into a games arcade on en route to a super adult cocktail venue and may have not been able to find our way out of until midnight…..
Sticking to this area of Paris for our first 48 hours, we wondered the streets in a whimsical fashion, stopping at as many coffee shops as we could find and more or less slipping ourselves into a coffee coma. One spot which I must recommend to any visitor is Mata Mata; a relaxed spot off the beaten track where you can sit back for as long as you want to read, chat, drink, play without feeling any daggers of people wanting to jump in your seat or by staff wanting to turf you out.
For dinner, we walked twenty minutes to Anahi; a steak restaurant which our concierge recommended as an intimate and authentic venue. Intimate it definitely was (we were elbow to elbow with a, thankfully rather charming, father and son), but the surroundings were stunning – almost solely candlelit with light bouncing off vintage mirrors and lines of vintage bottles. The menu offered up local cuts of meat and extensive wine menu and daily cocktail blends. Essentially, we encountered a ‘first dinner in Paris’ cliche evening, but we bloody revelled in it.
After two nights in La Maison Favart, we jumped on the Metro and headed to spend our final night at Le Narcisse Blanc. We knew this hotel was set to be fabulous with five stars and raving reviews wherever we looked, however, it was when we were slogging out bags along the final stretch towards the front doors that we realised quite HOW special it was set to be. One glimpse to our left down a narrow cobbled road and the wind was quite literally knocked out of me when a clear and slightly intimidating view of the Eiffel Tower hit me. It was one of those views and moment that you see in films. To anyone reading this and thinking ‘what’s up with this moron’, I know the Eiffel Tower is in Paris, yes, but it was RIGHT BLOODY THERE… and I was not expecting it.
The hotel was grand and plush, crafted with sheer immaculacy to every corner. Traditional white and black tiling on the floors and velvet-lined interiors at every view point. The pinacle of romantic Parisian elegance. Unlike La Maison Favart who catered to those who wanted to be left to themselves and indulge at the honesty bar, Le Narcisse Blanc catered to those who wanted to be doted on. And I was OK with that.
The best way to describe our room was ‘rich’. The walls were high, curtains a delicious shade of pink, contrasting with a royal blue velvet armchair.. Think a ‘Sketch’ you can sleep in. And again, a bed bigger than I’m sure is not at all necessary for any human on this planet, but one which the next morning I’d be dragged out of by an overexcited boyfriend, eager to get to Disneyland.
The weather during our sole day on the other side was dire, which scuppered many of our romantic plans to stroll and, maybe less romantic ones to stuff our faces. Instead, we ventured to the Eiffel Tower on foot so my poor and very patient boyfriend could get me that shot and quickly legged it back to the warm haven of the hotel spa. Haman, sauna, jacuzzi, pool, double beds gave us plenty to do during this drizzly Sunday before a quick shower and b-line for a disgusting amount of cheese fondu at Le Chalet Sovoyard (you MUST go if you’re in the area!).
For our final day we had Disneyland Paris on our agenda, but I marked this a ‘no blog day’. My boyfriend is most possibly the most patient Instagram husband on the earth, but even he gets bored of my ‘but this door is SO pretty’ shit sometimes and the camera stayed firmly in my bag. But I WILL tell you, don’t eat ‘diddy donuts and go on Space Mountain….
What I wore: